School Children Honor WW2 Battle of Britain Pilot

Pilots of No. 611 Squadron at Hornchurch, 7 July 1941. Eric Lock is on the left.
Pilots of No. 611 Squadron at Hornchurch, 7 July 1941. Eric Lock is on the left.

Seventy-five years have elapsed since James Brindley Nicolson shot down a German fighter plane earning him a Victoria Cross.

Recently, a plaque was unveiled by school students to honor his contribution.

Nicolson pounced on a German aircraft above Southampton in August of 1940. He maintained the assault despite a fuel tank in Nicolson’s Hawker Hurricane being set alight by a German Messerschmitt fighter and in addition, was wounded in the eye, leg, and heel, according to Imperial War Museums.

Surrounded by flames and with blood gushing from his injuries, Nicolson continued the attack, only leaving his aircraft and parachuting to the ground with life-threatening injuries, when he noticed his flesh burning from the intense heat in the cockpit.

The memorial, designed by a number of Southampton students, is the only tribute to Nicolson on public display, BBC News reported.

It was unveiled at Sholing Junior School by Don Smith, who saw the action on 16 August 1940.

Mr. Smith said: “We saw two planes in a dogfight and then quickly, from nowhere, another plane appeared that was on fire and fired on one of the others, which vanished towards the docks leaving a trail of smoke.”

Nicolson was killed near the war’s end on May 2, 1945, while flying as a passenger in a bomber which crashed into the Bay of Bengal after a raid on a Japanese complex at Rangoon.

Sholing Junior School deputy headteacher Richard Hutchinson said: The children saw an injustice because Nicolson had been awarded the only Victoria Cross for the Battle of Britain, yet at present, there is no memorial to him.

He said the children spent almost school year on the project, raising funds and showing the plans to MPs at Westminster.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE